“Great moments are born from great opportunities.”
Herb Brooks, Hockey Coach
Sometimes the darkest of tragedies provide beacons of opportunities. As a collective society it is far too easy to become set in our ways. “We have been doing things, this way, for as long as I remember, it seems to be working, so why change?” The money flows in. We help some people. We believe we are on a path of righteousness. We are going to leave the world a better place than what it was when we first came into it.
And after a promising start, complacency starts to set in. Our vision becomes focused inward, instead of outward, always outward. The voices we most listen to parrot our own beliefs and views. Opinions which do not coincide with our own are disregarded and dismissed. We employ only those people whose opinions on issues and strategies coincide with our own. Our own knowledge is safe. And then, growth begins to slow. What started out as a bold and noble vision sees a decline in passion, then stagnation and finally descent into oblivion.
This descent is sometimes hastened by the unexpected and unforeseen. A tragedy. A pandemic. The sudden death of the leader of an organization. And in the blink of an eye, “holes of despair” which had been appearing and growing in number and severity in our previously “safe vessel” are revealed. Holes to which we had turned a blind eye. Sometimes willfully. Sometimes out of naivete or inexperience. Our organization, our world is rocked. Perhaps we find ourselves standing on the precipice of financial disaster. We look around at those people whose views mirrored our own, people who also did not see the holes because they thought like us, acted like us, and we see fear, anxiety and confusion on their faces. Many times those people are looking solely inward, their first and primary thought being on self-preservation … on how they can save their own livelihood. They run for the nearest life boat.
Financial Armageddon awaits. As does our own destiny. And on the surface, it is not what we thought it would be. It was not what we had planned. We hope for a miracle. We hope for deliverance. We are facing Financial Armageddon.
Or are we?
For most people, their own perception is their reality. We can see only the here and now. When we shun others, when we are not open to other people’s viewpoints and ideas our tribal mentality handicaps us and defines us in a very narrow manner. Fear of the unknown. Fear of new ideas. Fear of failure.
Or an opportunity to rise from the ashes of despair and boldly embrace new ideas that a previously unexplored path could provide?
Covid-19 has changed the global landscape in every possible manner. Educational institutions. Businesses, large and small. Entertainment. Dining. Travel. Life and Death.
Conferences and conventions in all major United States’ cities are being cancelled. The eating disorder community and industry are being hit hard by closures and cancellations. iaedp’s 2020 Symposium scheduled for March 26 – 29, 2020 was cancelled. The leaders of iaedp are attempting to devise a plan to reconstitute the Symposium virtually. Many obstacles and the realities of a fractured community weigh heavily against a successful implementation of that venture.
On March 14, 2020, the Eating Disorder Foundation cancelled or moved all support groups to a virtual format.
Beat and the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Eating Disorders announced that the Eating Disorders International Conference scheduled for March 18 – 19, 2020 at the University of Strathclyde was cancelled.
The Eating Disorder Coalition Advocacy Day on the Hill scheduled for May 13, 2020 has been postponed to September 23, 2020.
It is likely that a number of NEDA walks will be cancelled.
AED’s annual international conference, ICED 2020, scheduled for early June 2020 in Sydney, Australia is clearly at risk. Cancellation or postponement of ICED 2020 may be inevitable since ordinarily, the cost and time expenditure to stage an international convention escalates as the date nears.
An uncertain future, fear, confusion, frustration for an industry. Except for that one organization, that first organization, which understands that all aspects of the future are uncertain and unknown. That organization will understand from adversity comes a greater opportunity to rethink past conduct. That organization will be willing to boldly explore new partnerships, more powerful collaborations and to embrace new ideas and new concepts.
That first forward thinking organization will understand that instead of harping on the discredited statistic, “95% of all diets fail,” and organizing petitions of protest that are as inane as they are ineffectual, it will explore ways to partner with the wellness industry. It will inspire the research professionals in both the eating disorder industry and wellness industry to work together to develop specialized eating plans that more thoroughly provide nutrition to the body, and the brain.
That first forward thinking organization will understand that instead of turning away in a belligerent and obtuse manner from the pharmaceutical industry, it will utilize its best and brightest minds to start collaborative studies with the research departments of pharmaceutical companies to research then implement a prescription drug regiment tailored to address the unique needs of those people who suffer from eating disorders.
That first forward thinking organization will understand that instead of ignoring the vast financial resources of Fortune 100 companies, it will find opportunities to introduce itself to those companies. It will convince those companies that the mission and vision of those companies mirror the vision and mission of that forward thinking organization. And should those Fortunate 100 companies truly embrace their own vision and mission, they will be not only furthering the vision of that forward thinking company but will also be acting in its own financial best interest.
That first forward thinking organization will understand that instead of relying on the handouts of a few private companies and foundations, it will understand that the Tax Reform Act of 2017 changed the rules, that public funding is too sparse and will find new revenue streams from its new collaborations and partnerships.
That first forward thinking organization will understand that it can no longer rely upon the corruption and ever changing winds in our Nation’s Capital to push forward ineffectual bills which statistically fail 94% of the time. Instead, it will find broader, more expansive marketing and advertising outlets and media such that its vision and mission are distributed to a vast audience.
Covid-19 has provided problems and issues of all type and manner which need to be addressed. Covid-19 has taken lives. Inevitably, Covid-19 will cause some businesses and persons into financial peril and then, bankruptcy. But, Covid-19 will also provide unprecedented opportunities. Opportunities for advancement, for growth, for success.
Opportunities for that one, that first forward thinking organization.